The special Congressional deficit panel dominoes are falling.
The Republican members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, aka the Super Congress panel of 12 that is tasked with coming up with at least $1.2 trillion to reduce Uncle Sam's debt, have been announced.
House Speaker John Boehner has tapped Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas as co-chair of the committee. Michigan gets the other two House Republican slots: Dave Camp, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton.
Compromise possible? In his announcement of the House Republican special committee members, Boehner seemed to hope for a better working process than was evident in reaching the debt ceiling deal.
"This joint committee presents an opportunity for both parties to bring to the table their best ideas, debate them on the merits and, ultimately, come together to do what's best for our country," Boehner said. "With all that's at stake, I expect that the joint select committee will conduct its work in the open and transparent manner the American people deserve."
Hensarling and Camp have been part of a similar cross-party process before. They served on the Bowles-Simpson debt reduction commission. Both voted against the chairmen's $4 trillion deficit reduction plan.
But compromise is unlikely. As head of the House tax-writing committee Camp has repeatedly called for cuts not tax increases.
And Henserling, a staunch fiscal conservative, reluctantly voted for the debt ceiling bill, saying all of Capitol Hill should be tarred and feathered for not making even greater spending cuts earlier this month.
Budget biggie out: Rep. Paul Ryan, who is the GOP point man on the budget, said in a statement that he asked Boehner not to consider him for the special panel.
The Wisconsin lawmaker who chairs the House Budget Committee said he wants instead to focus on reforming the budget process.
Senate selections: Kyl's appointment was expected. Not only is he the Assistant Minority Leader, he was part of the debt ceiling negotiations led by Vice President Biden.
Toomey and Portman are Senate freshmen who previously served in the House.
Toomey is a former head of the conservative Club for Growth. Portman was George W. Bush's budget director and trade representative.
McConnell did leave the tax door slightly ajar in his announcement of his picks. Any debt reduction deal, he said "means reforming entitlement programs that are the biggest drivers of our debt, and reforming the tax code in a way that makes us more competitive and leads to more American jobs."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid yesterday named his three panelists: Patty Murray (she's the Senate co-chair), John Kerry and Max Baucus.
Now we're just waiting for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to round out the Democratic side of the deficit table.
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